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Seated exercises for senior citizens


Seated exercises allow to target the lower body. If mobility is an issue, if balance problems prevent one from performing exercises in a standing position, or if one ise recovering from surgery or an injury, seated exercises are an excellent alternative.


Warmup

Always begin each workout with a 3- to 5-minute warmup, either while sitting or standing.

  1. Warm up by alternating marching feet for 30 to 60 seconds.

  2. Then, perform 30 seconds of arm circles.

  3. Repeat for 3 to 5 minutes.

Seated knee extensions

  1. Sit in a chair with your back straight and your arms at your sides.

  2. Extend and straighten your right knee while focusing on squeezing your quadricep muscles, which are at the front of your thigh. Hold for 3 seconds.

  3. Change legs and repeat.

  4. Perform this as a single-leg exercise for 15 repetitions on each side or a double-leg exercise for 15 repetitions total.

Seated pillow squeezes

  1. Sit in a chair with your back straight and your arms at your sides.

  2. Place a pillow between your thighs or knees.

  3. Squeeze the pillow by contracting your inner thigh muscles. Hold the squeeze for 3 seconds, then relax.

  4. Perform 12 repetitions.

Ankle pumps with straight knees

  1. Sit in a chair with your back straight and you arms at your sides.

  2. Straighten your legs in front of you and pump your ankles downward, as if you were pushing down on a gas pedal.

  3. Hold for 3 seconds.

  4. Keep your knees straight and move your ankles in the opposite direction, bringing the top of your feet toward your shins.

  5. Hold each position for 3 seconds.

  6. Perform 10 repetitions in total.

Marching (chair aerobics)

  1. Sit in a chair with your back straight and your arms at your sides.

  2. Begin by marching with alternate legs. Bring one thigh up as high as possible and return to the starting position, then do the same with your other leg.

  3. Pump your arms, if possible.

  4. Continue for 30 seconds, or do 20 total marches.

Full body chair exercises

This full body routine from Wickham includes exercises that you can do either seated or standing. It also includes weighted exercises with light dumbbells or hand weights.

Doing exercises from a standing position can help improve balance, but if your mobility is limited, you may find it easier to do them seated.


Warmup

  1. For a standing warmup, stand next to a chair. Only place your hand on the back of the chair if you need it for balance.

  2. March in place for 30 to 60 seconds.

  3. Then, do 30 seconds of arm circles.

One can also perform the sequence of marching and arm circles while seated.


Side bend holds

  1. Sit in a chair or stand next to one.

  2. Straighten your arms overhead as high as possible.

  3. Squeeze the muscles on the side of your torso,bending to one side. Continue to contract these muscles for 5 seconds.

  4. Return to the starting position, then side bend to the other side.

  5. Hold this contraction for 5 seconds.

  6. Perform 5 repetitions per side.

Squats with chair support

  1. Stand in front of a chair, holding the top of it for support.

  2. Move down into a squat position by pushing your hips backward and bending your knees. Focus on keeping a straight back,and keep your chest up.

  3. Try to go as low as you can, with the goal of your upper leg being parallel to the ground.

  4. Stand up and repeat.

  5. Perform 10 repetitions.

Chair squats

  1. Sit in a chair with your back straight and your arms at your sides.

  2. Drive your heels and the middle of your feet down into the ground as you stand up tall. Be sure to keep your chest upright.

  3. Lower into a squat position by bending at you hips, pushing your hips backward, and bending your knees until you have sat back down in the chair.

  4. Perform 10 repetitions.

Standing lateral hip raises with chair support

  1. Stand up tall, holding on to the top of a chair for support.

  2. Lift one leg straight out to the side. You should feel the muscles in the side of your hip contracting.

  3. Keep your leg as high as possible while continuing to stand up straight. Try not to lean over to the side. Hold this position for a few seconds.

  4. Return to the starting position and repeat.

  5. Perform 10 repetitions per leg.

Heel raises while holding on to a chair

  1. Stand up tall, holding on to the top of a chair for support. Your feet should be about 6 inches apart.r

  2. Push the balls of your feet into the ground as you lift your heels as high as possible, contracting your calf muscles.

  3. Hold at the top for 3 seconds, then slowly lower back down.

  4. Perform 10 repetitions.

Standing hip extensions with chair support

  1. Stand up tall, holding on to the top of a chair for support.

  2. Bend your right knee. Squeeze your right glute muscle and extend your right leg backward. Focus on not arching your low back while you do this. This may feel like a small amount of movement, but you should feel your glute engaging.

  3. Hold for 3 seconds, then return to the starting position.

  4. Perform 10 repetitions per leg.

Tips for limited mobility

If mobility issues prevent you from completing seated or standing exercises, there are ways to modify the moves and still benefit from doing the exercise.Wickham recommends performing the exercise using a shortened range of motion.


For example, if you experience pain, shoulder mobility restrictions, or both with the dumbbell overhead press, don’t lift your arms all the way overhead. Instead, only go three-quarters or half the way up, or as high as feels comfortable for you.


“It’s normal to have mobility restrictions, especially as you age due to years of poor posture and sitting,” says Wickham. Listen to your body and start a flexibility and mobility routine in combination with your workouts.


Source: Adapted from an article by Sara Lindberg on March 20, 2020 on ‘Chair Exercises for Seniors’ in www.healthline.com)

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